6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 6.6 Control Schedule: Tools and Techniques


In controlling the schedule, you monitor the progress being made on the project and compare it to what’s in the plan using data analysis techniques.   You use some of the same tools used to create the schedule, i.e., the critical path method, resource optimization, leads and lags, as well as schedule compression, in order to identify risks to the schedule and to come up with ways to mitigate them with preventive action if necessary.   This post will cover these tools and techniques.

6.6.2  Control Schedule:  Tools and Techniques

6.6.2.1  Data Analysis Techniques

  • Earned value analysis–this is a technique which takes a measure of the triple constraints of scope, time and cost, and in the case of either the schedule variance or schedule performance index, can give you an idea if you are ahead, behind, or on schedule
  • Iteration burndown chart–in agile methodology, this charts the remaining work to be completed in the iteration backlog (see Figure 6-24 on p. 226 of the PMBOK Guide for an example), and a trend line is calculated to forecast completion based on the remaining work.   This replaces earned value analysis as a form of variance and trend analysis used in agile environments.
  • Performance reviews–these are not HR reviews of the personnel on the team, but rather reviews of the performance of the project as compared to the schedule baseline.
  • Trend analysis–reviews project performance over time to determine whether it is improving or deteriorating.   Even if the project is not behind schedule now, it may be at some point in the future if a negative trend continues.   In this case, a preventive action might be recommended.
  • Variance analysis–this is not just the detection of a variance between the actual work done and the work scheduled to be done, but if there is a variance, the source of that variance is investigated.   This will suggest a possible corrective action to bring the project back on schedule.
  • What-if scenario analysis–there may be positive opportunities listed in the risk register which, if pursued, may bring the actual performance of the project back to the schedule model.

6.6.2.2 Critical Path Method

  • If activities are showing a delay compared to the schedule, it is important to identify whether they are on the critical path.   If they are, then there is a risk that the schedule deadline may be delayed, and it is very important that these activities on the critical path be brought back into line with the schedule model.

6.6.2.3 Project Management Information System (PMIS)

The software used to create the schedule is a tool which can also be used to alter the schedule if necessary.

6.6.2.4  Resource Optimization

Resource leveling and resource smoothing are techniques which adjust the duration of activities to fit the constraints of the workplace (8-hour workdays for example) and of the individuals themselves (some may only be able to work for a few hours per day).   If activities have to be adjusted as a corrective or preventive action, it may be necessary to take into consideration the resource optimization techniques.

6.6.2.5 Leads and lags

If there are two activities that occur one after the other, and there is a need to shorten their duration, it may be possible to move the start date of the successor activity back, in other words, to create a certain lead time so that the start date of the successor activity happens while the predecessor activity is still going on.   This is actually a schedule compression technique (see next paragraph), and can be used as a corrective or preventive action to bring the work back on schedule.

6.6.1.6  Schedule compression

If there is a delay in some of the activities related to a particular work package, one of the corrective actions required may be shorten the duration of the remaining activities, and schedule compression may be a way of accomplishing this, either by crashing (adding resources to the activities) or fast-tracking (taking the successor activity and advancing the start date so that it is done partially in parallel with the predecessor activity).

With these techniques, the outputs of the process will be information that can be turned into reports to the stakeholders.   If variances are detected, an analysis of them during this process may result in possible change requests to bring the work of the project back on schedule..   These outputs of this process will be discussed in the next post.

 

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